"What is so rare as a day in June? Then, if ever, come perfect days." This snippet of poetry learned as a child kept running through my head yesterday. Windy and pretty darned cold in the afternoon, that line of a long-ago poem fit the morning to a T. The goats were bouncing around and kicking up their heels (which is a funny sight when they've got a full udder). It got me to thinking. Are children still taught poetry in school? Would they recognize Shakespeare's iambic pentameter or e e cummings, who wrote poems without capitals? I don't honestly remember what I learned in school or what I was taught by my mother. I still have her small book of Hamlet, with her penciled notes in the margins.
Mother did not go to college, per se. Like many young women of her day, after graduating from high school (I think there were twelve in her class) she attended Normal School, a two-year course which trained girls to be teachers. Later, she was sent to board with a family and teach all grades in a one-room school in the Illinois countryside. She told of walking to school past an old cemetery that had been partially washed out by a flood and the ends of caskets sticking out of the earth; it scared her silly. I have a little notebook in which she'd written the rules for children's games, some of which involved poetry of a sort. "There is a farmer who is (YY) enough to take his (EE), and study nature with his (II) and think on what he (CC)," the kids to fill in blanks with double letters. My wake-up call for more years than I can say was, "A birdie with a yellow bill hopped upon my window sill. Cocked his shining eye and said, 'Ain't you 'shamed, you sleepyhead?'" I grew up with Stevenson's A Child's Garden of Verses. Once a teacher, always a teacher.
I hope the lives of kids today are still enriched by poetry.